The Challenges Current and Potential Mental Health Patients Face

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Roughly 1 in 3 people who take medication for mental health disorders said they struggle to afford it or their insurance coverage does not cover their drugs, highlighting a pressure point the country currently faces about the cost and access problems of prescription drugs.

Reining in rising drug prices has become a hot-button issue in the health care industry, as the country collectively spends hundreds of billions of dollars on prescription drugs each year. Medicare has recently begun its drug price negotiation program, which was created as part of the Inflation Reduction Act after a decadeslong effort by Democrats.

The Biden administration recently released the first 10 drugs that will be part of negotiations, and the program has overwhelming support from registered voters. Most people even support expanding Medicare’s negotiation powers.

However, the pharmaceutical industry has aggressively fought to shut the program down, with top companies and lobbying groups filing multiple lawsuits to block it.

People who are not Medicare beneficiaries also have trouble affording their drugs: 48% of millennials and 29% of Gen Xers who take mental health medications said they struggle with the costs, according to Morning Consult’s survey.

The public favors in-person mental health care over virtual-only models

The COVID-19 pandemic fueled an explosion in virtual health care utilization, and mental health care was one of the services that benefited.

Telehealth claims accounted for 5.4% of medical claim lines in June, compared with 0.16% in June 2019. Among all telehealth claim lines, roughly 69% accounted for mental health services in June this year, compared with 34% in June 2019.

However, as the country transitions out of the public health emergency and behaviors return to pre-pandemic norms, people do not prefer virtual mental health care — or virtual care models in general, for that matter.

Much of the public said in-person mental health services were higher quality, more affordable and more efficient: Just 10% of U.S. adults said virtual services had better quality.

However, virtual care may be catching on more for mental health services than for other health care services: People were more likely to say that there was no difference between virtual and in-person care in terms of quality, affordability and efficiency for mental health services than for general health care services.

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